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Pace of development heats up in Ancoats

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August 16 2005

The huge blaze at the heart of Ancoats last month has, if anything, accelerated the pace of change in the area rather than slowed it down. Although it took 60 firefighters the whole of the night of 13 July 2005 to put out the blaze at the five-storey mill on Bengal Street, they managed to prevent it spreading to the adjacent Beehive Mill, in which the legendary club Sankeys Soap is located. Although 47 Bengal Street was Grade B listed, according to Stefan Brzozowski, development manager at Ancoats Urban Village, it was actually planned for demolition.
“We did originally come forward for schemes for re-using the mill, but structural surveys put the kibosh on it. The development company Nikal Investments sent their engineers round and they returned to say that the place was too far gone. Obviously we couldn’t go on their diagnosis so we contacted English Heritage and they sent their engineers. Although their report didn’t concur – they aren’t going to advocate demolition – the subtext was the same. The subsequent interventions that would have been required were such as to make it impossible for the place to stack up as a development,” he said.
Leach Rhodes Walker are now looking at a new build scheme for the site, on behalf of Nikal Investments. In the same block, Richard Murphy Architects have just put in for planning permission and listed building consent for the first of three phases for the Burrell Company’s Murray Mills block. “We’ve put in a detailed request for the first residential phase of 112 residential units, which also includes some office space and live work space in the basement and ground floors. We’ve also provided a masterplan. At one end of this residential block, we have plans for a textile research centre and a new build hotel at the other,” said Matt Brennan, of Richard Murphy Architects.
In a joint venture with developers City Park South, the architectural firm MBLC have purchased land on the site to the immediate south of the blaze and have plans for a new office on the basement with parking on the ground floor. The new build (shown below) is on a sliver of land 11m x 60m and will also include 48 residential units. According to George Mills, partner at MBLC, a major factor in relocating to the area was the further development. “We were responsible for the early masterplanning in Hulme and located there at the same time. If you are adjacent, you develop links with other agencies. We’ve been involved in 18 projects in the area, because we were there from its early days,” said Mills.
“On Ancoats there are now 192 apartments that are now occupied. There’s 580 under construction and 450 that are approved or committed to,” said Brzozowski.

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